Community is a big part of Farm & Wilderness. As one of our core Quaker values, we hold to it in the camps and by engaging with our many friends and family members at events in Plymouth and at potlucks and informal reunions across the country. Who could have imagined how large our community would grow in our first 75 years? Surely Ken and Susan Webb, our founders, dreamed it.
There were 28 boys at Timberlake’s predecessor, Camp Mehrlicht, in 1939, our first year. Two years later 12 girls attended the first summer at Indian Brook. Senior Work Camp, the precursor to Tamarack Farm, extended the farming program to older campers in 1953. Nearly ten years later, in 1962, Saltash Mountain Camp brought the sounds of campers to Lake Ninevah and two years after that, Flying Cloud opened.
Today nearly 900 campers and more than 250 staff arrive each summer to fill the valley with song and laughter. About 25 staff work behind the scenes all year, making the magic happen, from marketing and recruiting campers and staff, to planning camp programs, to ensuring our grounds, water and structures sustain our community for years to come.
“What was once the farmer’s home, now houses our staff, and quite frankly, we’ve outgrown the space. We believe a more functional office will help us better serve our families and alumni by sustaining our high retention level for year-round staff—on average more than 5 years,” explains Rebecca Geary, Executive Director.
“Our need to extend our ‘home’ for the greater F&W community has also increased,” she continued. After Barn Day Camp families and friends drop off their children at the red barn, some folks find a quiet porch outside of our cramped office space to read, check their email using our Wi- Fi, or make plans with new friends for tubing or post-camp cookouts. More than 10,000 alumni and camper families stay connected to F&W through reunions and potlucks, work weekends, Fair and the Interim.
The simple, practical Friends Lodge will be built with local timber and seek to meet our net zero energy efficiency goal. Inside it will provide alum- ni and visitors the opportunity to browse the Farm & Wilderness archives. A multi-purpose group gathering space will provide room for camper, family and alumni programs, including a welcom- ing porch for Barn Day Camp families and others to gather and connect on summer days.
“At Friends Lodge, campers may sing songs and perform skits, staff will work to ensure campers have a wonderful summer, alumni will browse the archives, and visitors will make their first connection with F&W,” said Janet Green, clerk of the Farm & Wilderness board of trustees, which first saw the need for this lodge ten years ago.
Friends Lodge will become the hub for our year-round and seasonal staff, for alumni, and for camper parents, and will extend our connection to our local Plymouth community. “It is so important to create a space that meets the evolving needs of both our staff and our larger community,” said Rebecca. “Friends Lodge is where we will have the inspiring conversations and make the personal connections that will strengthen our community within and beyond the camps for the long term.”
Learn more about friends lodge and pledge your support here!